Resolve to Understand Your Worst Clients

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Admit it, you have clients you hate.  Whether they're not paying you, always coming up with excuses for not following your advice, or belittling your staff, your worst clients don't deserve your best work and probably aren't getting it anyway.  Their work is the last you do, and their calls are the last you return.  You wake up worried about their file, but then find a myriad of excuses to avoid touching it all day.  Your worst clients sap your energy and take the fun out of practicing law.

So, in 2010, I challenge you to resolve to understand your worst clients better.  This isn't about liking them, but about avoiding more like them.  Here's how:

1.  Identify your 10 worst clients (past and present).

2.  List at least three things they all share in common — things like the warning signals you ignored when they hired you, the kind of problems they asked you to solve, or even the type of lawyer on the other side of the case.

3.  Title the list: "Types of Clients and Cases I'll Never Take Again."

4.  Review the list before every potential client interview, and think twice before taking on another "worst" client.

Once you've resolved to understand the kinds of clients you hate to serve, you can start building your practice around serving the clients you love.

One Response to Resolve to Understand Your Worst Clients
  1. Julie A. Fleming
    December 2, 2009 | 11:12 am

    Good advice. One of the signs of success is when you realize that you don’t need to take every potential client that approaches you.

    Step 5, to add to this list, would be to come up with a method of turning away clients that won’t anger or insult them. Figure out the best way to explain that you aren’t the right lawyer for their case and make them leave your office feeling like you’ve done them a favor.

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